Bloody Point, South Carolina, 9 July 1775
In early summer of 1775 the South Carolina Council of Safety received intelligence that a shipment of gunpowder was on the way to Savannah, and that the powder would be used to supply the Indians. Two barges were sent from South Carolina to Bloody Point to intercept the shipment.
Captain John Joyner and Captain John Barnwell of the 1st South Carolina Regiment commanded the barges. When the South Carolinians arrived at Bloody Point they encouraged Captain Joseph Habersham of Georgia to outfit a schooner with 10 carriage guns and "many" swivels, and join the "fleet". Captain Oliver Bowen commanded the Georgia schooner. Captain Richard Maitland and the armed schooner Phillippa were escorting the supply vessel. On July 7th the two British ships anchored nine miles from Tybee Point and waited for a pilot to carry the ships into the Savannah River.
The Georgia schooner Liberty saw the two ships at anchor on July 8th, and stopped four miles from them. The small Carolina fleet waited there until the next day at two o’clock when a pilot arrived and began guiding the British ships to the Tybee Bar.
Maitland saw the Liberty closing the distance. "The schooner was full of armed men and had ten carriage-guns mounted." Below her deck several boards had been removed "which were for small arms in close quarters."
At four o’clock the Georgia schooner fired two muskets at the Phillippa and ordered Captain Maitland to identify himself. Maitland demanded to know who the schooner was. Bowen "hauled down their pendant and hoisted at the masthead a white flag with a red border, on the field of which flag was stamped or imprinted in large red letters the word 'American Liberty', and the people on board the schooner said the schooner’s name was the Liberty."
The Liberty followed the Phillippa and anchored beside her that night. The next day when the Phillippa entered Tybee Point she was ordered to anchor at Cockspur Island. On the island was the encampment of the South Carolina Provincials. "The number of the whole appeared to be about three hundred."
The South Carolinians rode out in boats and surrounded the two British vessels. Maitland was told to produce his papers. When it was learned that the powder was on board the Carolinians told him that they would "take all the gunpowder, shot, lead, and Indian trading arms."
The Americans were able to take off 16,000 pounds of powder and "seven hundredweight of leaden bullets." They also "took away all the bar-lead, sheet-lead, Indian trading arms, and shot, that were on board." The Carolinians and the Georgians divided the cargo between them. The South Carolinian’s powder was taken to Tucker’s Island where 4,000 pounds were put on board a schooner and delivered to the Congress in Philadelphia.